Lars Morgan runs the innovative Morgan’s Wine Store in the Tygervalley Centre. I interviewed him in the Sunday Times at the end of July about his bugbear. His answer was refreshingly honest: “Recently I read an article where [pundit and importer] Mike Fridjhon is praising JP Chenet Merlot for great quality and price, saying that it is ‘streets better than any Cape example.’ You cannot convince me that one of the biggest supermarket brands in Europe that have wine in 3L bag in box for approximately R60 can compete with our South African Merlots.
I wonder whether Lars is related to Helen Morgan who was Miss World for four days back in 1974. Helen was an unmarried mother whose son (hidden at home with mom) was against competition rules. Stripped of her tinsel crown, Helen was replaced by our very own Anneline Kriel. Was Lars the love child who cost Helen her throne?
What made matters worse was that Miss World 1973, Marjorie Wallace, was dethroned after a reign of only four months “for dating too many high-profile men.”
Has the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year Competition become the new Miss World? Earlier today the 2008 laureate Duncan Savage nobly resigned his crown, noting “I had the fortune of living that dream for a few days when Cape Point Vineyards’ flagship wine, the Isliedh 2006, was selected by an esteemed panel of judges as the best wine in this year’s category (white blends).”
And once again, it was (indirectly) all Lars’ fault. But rather than a baby mewling in granny’s arms, the problem was Lars and Co. had snapped up too much Isliedh, leaving Cape Point short of the 3000 bottle stock requirement demanded by Diners.
The role of Marjorie Wallace was reprised by Marc Kent. His 2007 Diners Shiraz victory was also controversial, accompanied as it was by much muttering about seeded players. Of course Marc confounded the skeptics with the stellar price achieved for his Shiraz at the recent Cape Winemakers’ Guild Auction as well as a five star rating earlier this month, with another for his Cab thrown in for good measure.
Which brings me to the main thing I dislike about SA wine – the cult of the celebrity winemaker. Let’s have a Diners Club Wine of the Year Competition as making wine is a co-operative venture. Vineyard terroir, the skill of the viticulturalist, the foresight of the owner, the dedication of the farm labourers, all play their part alongside a winemaker. As Lars said “we should proudly support our great wine farms!”
Mr. Pendock is, correctly, concerned about the cult of celebrity.
Joe Public discovers that the requirement for entry to this ‘prestigious’ competition is a paltry 3,000 bottles available at the time of judging. Good grief, by the time the ‘insiders’ have got wind of the result the stock has long gone.
These awards are about a mutual admiration society of winemakers, scribes and card carrying ‘insiders’.
Value of the award to Joe Public – absolute zero.
But every cloud has a silver lining, the decision to cancel subscriptions to valueless wine mags / newsletters etc. becomes a no brainer.
What value does Joe Public get from the Grammy award best director…None! The cult winemaker, hardly! Every year a winemaker is awarded this prestigious award, they invariable thank the people that helped them receive the award (read back room staff). They also go on to humbly say it was in the hands of terroir, the stars etc. If you don’t like the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year award go and launch a Wine Estate/Farm of the year award. Because you don’t like it, doesn’t make it wrong…If anything about South African wine gets under my skin it is the cult of the wine journalist! Around every corner there has to be a scandal, some sort of conspiracy, back stabbing, drama, threatening court action, a book launch or two. Ego’s bigger than waist lines. Sounds like sour grapes to me….PS: England beat Australia in the quarter final of the Rugby World Cup 2007 not the semi final..
With apologies to Thabo Mbeki…
The beginning and the end of this particular discourse is that (all) of us have grown up in a (agricultural) atmosphere that we fully respected and honoured our (bosses), heroes and heroines without reservation.
It therefore came as a surprise to me that anybody within our revolutionary democratic (wine) movement could so much as suggest, and therefore insult somebody like (Duncan Savage) that he could act as he has, whether rightly or wrongly, driven by attachment to a personal cult!
In this context, given that I have worked longer with you than I have worked with (Duncan Savage), I would be interested to know your view of any instance in our (oenosphere) during which it fell victim to the noxious phenomenon of the personality cult, as a result of which it ceased to think, content to act in the manner of the “anointed personality”, such as the late (Toxic Tim) determined to the people of (The Grape)of North Korea!
I have mentioned the people I have to make essential and crucial points, central to the value system of our movement and struggle, that none of these heroes or heroines ever sought adulation in any manner that would turn them into cult figures.
However, for me personally, at no point did this translate into “hero worship” and therefore the progression to the phenomenon of the “cult of personality”.
I know this as a matter of fact that all the heroes and heroines I have mentioned would have opposed the emergence of such a cult with every fibre in their revolutionary bones!
Gotta love our politicians… they give us sooooo much to work with. Miles Mossop you rock boytjie! Had I been in your shoes I would have done the same. Although my feet are less calloused and far prettier. As far as the cult of personality… Neil Pendock you rock (although Boytjie might not work as well here). Give us a wine! Thats all. Cut the ****, pay the boys and girls and boy-girls who make wine well and let them do just that … make wine. Hire decent PRO’s and use them to front the brand. Get the bosses to talk, get the owners to do the Mandela Shuffle. Ge the wives to cook the snacks for launch parties. Introduce the consumer to a whole new concept… Team. Hehehe, and guess what? There is no I in team, but boy oh boy, there is a U in….
Spot on Noid. It is sour grapes. I run a small restaurant in KZN and would much prefer to be posting a message like this – “Hey, we have just introduced award winning wine XYZ at our restaurant. It is a brilliant addition to our small wine list and we have received very positive feed-back from our customers”.
By the way, spare a thought for the sponsors. Sponsorship should not be confused with philanthropy.
I find the fact that Duncan Savage has had his Diners Club Wine maker of the Year award annulled is a disgrace.
The organisers should have done a thorough audit of all entrants to see that they met the competitions requirements. The fact that Cape Point Vineyards did not have the 250 cases in stock is not immaterial. The requirement for the 250 cases was set so that a fly by night wine producer / winemaker did not wine the award. He has won 5 stars in Platter for a least the last three years in a row, he was Platter producer of the year last year, he won the Trophy wine show last year (along with other awards at the show), and he has now won Diners Club Winemaker of the Year. This guy is no fly by night winemaker. Duncan has recovered from life threatening cancer to now become one of South Africa’s top white wine winemakers. Why must he now be treated like a criminal?
I will happily return my 2 cases of the wine (and I am sure along with many other owners of cases of the award winning wine)so that Duncan is able make the competition requirement, and hold his head high once more.
The organisers of the Diners Club Winemaker of the Year should go hang their heads in SHAME.
Lovechild Lars (of the Real Girl fame?) and Mr Pendock should start an emerging wine award called “Not the Celebrity Wine of the Year”. I would keenly await the results, so I can be first to rush off to my Makro or Tops outlet, to snaffle all the underated vino and have small town bragging rights.
But then that would make you and Lars into celebrities in your own right. Sponsors would pour in with book contracts.
I would have to start my own sour grapes blog
This is a message for George Parkes (aka idiot). WTF? What has surviving cancer got to do with integrity in wine competitions? You are an absolute moron and have the reasoning abilities of a dumbass!
Cancer survivor, where did you go to school…Bishops? Must have been Bishop Lavis High School. First of all don’t get personal, stick to the topic and contribute to the debate, don’t insult and use foul language. What the man was trying to say… not only is DS a truly great winemaker but also a man of strength and character. Being a survivor of cancer takes courage and depth of character. You are correct this has nothing to do with a wine competition BUT everything to do with the person. What he is trying to say is: It is wrong in his opinion to treat somebody of DS obvious qualities so badly. That’s the mans opinion and he is entitled to it. It does no one any good if you attack him personally for it.
I think Ducan Savage is a complete idiot and new that they didn’t have stock available but they still took the chance. He should be slapped on the wrist and have his credibility doubted, banned from wine competitions.
Many wineries have been in a similar positions with fantastic wines that could have lead to achieving the status as winemaker of the year but couldn’t enter as there was insufficient wine and I think Duncan was fully aware of this and still took that chance knowing full well of the consequences he should be discredit publicly and the vineyard sites of Cape Point have always made the wine. Remove Duncan and the wines will still show well not matter who’s at the reins. I think he’s become to arrogant and the heads become to big!!!!!!
Aan James wat Duncan se intelegensie en menswees afkraak. Ou seun, ek dink nie jy het n benul oor wat in die wynbedryf aangaan nie, en as jy het, verwyder asseblief die oogklappe van jou eie oë voor jy sulke snert kwyt raak. Indien hy n “idiot” is, kan jy dalk met n wynreputasie voor n dag kom wat jy opgebou het?
watter wyne maak jy nou juis, aangesien jou volle identiteit nie gewys word nie.
Dit is n jammerte vir Duncan, maar ook n pluimpie ou maat, dit bewys dat jou wyn goed genoeg is om sonder n toekenning n pad na die verbruiker vind.Dalk het iemand n paar kiste misgetel? wie weet, gaan koop die voorraad terug van Lars of oorsee. Die einde van die storie is dat ons almal geweet het dat as dit by wit versnitte kom was dit tussen Duncan en ou André van Rensburg. Die aap is reeds uit die hoed, al word die toekenning terug geneem. What must be must be, the fact stays that according the panel’s pallet he had the best white blend.
Eish, I am a wheelchair bound cripple previously disadvantaged ******* and in the prosess of undergoing a *** change. I once had cancer of my third nipple and survived. About three years ago I think I might have mentioned that I liked Oom Tas. Beacuse of this I am so priveledged – a man from a magazine about wine phoned me and offered me a trophy and a ticket overseas. I said I dont have enough stock He said it doesn’t matter. He likes me and I was at his wedding. Ok, I couldnt see much as I was sitting. And not on a fence. The last one shocked me close to my operation scar. Eish, eina! I am now famous. Eish. I love the new South Africa. Viva le vin du Cap, viva!
Eish, the clever computer man. ******* is le s bi an and the *** is s ex. Gotcha!
Marius Malan, voetstoots, Gert whoever… you sound like the same person. Pallet and palate are very different. Perhaps you should educate yours!
So there we have it. Xstian Eedes has listed the facts in his Gulp newsletter. Duncan Savage lied through his teeth and was caught out. FACT! He has shamed all winemakers. Bartho Eksteen also had insufficient stock. Did Tokara have the stock? Now close this topic… or not.
I quote from Eedes newsletter “Wine competitions exist for a reason: in a hugely over-traded market, they help inform the consumer’s purchasing decision.”
Absolute rubbish, the winning wine doesn’t reach the shelves. How does that help the consumer’s purchasing decision ?
Stop pretending. The competitions are there to fuel the egos of the wine community and get mileage for the sponsor. Mind you I doubt this is quite the style of mileage Diners enjoy.
As to closing the subject, this grubby little charade has many miles still to run.
Typical to have that old fraud Fridjhon popping up punting French wine – Reciprocal are wine importers, so are you surprised?
The best thing of all is that Grape went belly up just as the scandal broke. Toxic Tim and Angela Lasagne must be writhing with frustration. Don’tya just love it!!!!
So, in summation:
1. Duncan Savage knowingly enters Diners Club Winemaker of the Year with insufficient wine stocks.
2. Duncan Savage accepts award after being asked and replying in the positive that he has enough stock to fullfil requirements of the competition.
3. Complaints are sent to Wine Mag and the dominoes begin to fall.
4. Duncan falls on his sword… or was he pushed with a threat of disqualification?
5. Duncan issues a statement and denies any wrong doing saying it was an honest mistake.
6. Christian Eedes cancels the competition because Bartho too has insufficient stock as second place winner.
7. Did Chriatian contact Tokara to see if they had sufficient stock? Or did he think it was unwise because rumour has it that Miles Mossop instigated the investigation into corruption.
8. Christian issues his Gulp newsletter and says Duncan was asked a direct question as to stock levels and responded in the positive. Thus Christian states in his letter that Duncan Savage blatantly lied.
8. Its the weekend and all is quiet. Duncan is probably wondering if the Cape Wine Makers Guild is going to ask him to resign his membership. He is after all a massive liability now. Oh, hang on, just reject his Guild wine a few more times (like the first) and then send him on his way. Much simpler.
9. Where is Diners Club in all of this mess. Are they happy with the way Wine Mag has conducted themselves? Mike Froud wrote in his article on the competition that the wine was sold out ex cellar, as it was released early 2008. So Wine Mag knew this! Did Duncan lie then? Or has Christian Eedes tried to cover his tracks and protect himself from further lashings?
10. Blissful weekend upon us.
Good summation Mealy Bug.
Winemag and Diners seem to be having a bit of an annus horribilis. Controversial award for Diners Club Wine maker of the Year. And coming to a bookshop near you soon…
‘Dine – where to eat’, also a Winemag venture sponsored by Diners Club. It is due out shortly, presumably edited by Anna Trapido again this year. Ms Trapido wrote in The Sunday Independent on 26th October 2008, “Hands up anyone who has had a really good meal in a South African restaurant this year? None of you? Me neither”.
For ‘Dine – where to eat’, might we expect ‘Dine Lite’ ??
At last, some wit and humour in the vineyards!
My first read has left me in stitches.
Thank heavens for the un-named bottle of Pinot Noir/Hermitage,that I’m fortunate enough to be enjoying, with a distinct flavour of a hundred years of composted guava orchards to lend the jnsq, to both the wine and all of your comments.
Best to all……
Another South Afican wine industry storm in a tea up. What a load of ****. Did the wine get made? Yes. Was it made by Duncan Savage? Yes. Does it exist? Yes. Then give him the award. It’s like saying that we can’t say the Cheval Blanc 47 is one of the greatest wines ever made because only a few cases still exist. The SA wine industry just likes eating itself.
Dez, let me help you out here as you seriously need a little tender love and care. Duncan Savage entered a wine into a competition where other great wines were excluded because they followed the rules and did not have enough stock. Duncan cheated. His wine was then rated against other wines that made the grade. Therefore, and let me please hold your hand throughh this one, his wine was not judged against the best white blends in South Africa. Let me paint a picture to illustrate my point… a two legged runner in a one legged race. The dact that the wine is good, made, in existence… is not in dispute. His blatant and knowing disregard of the rules is. If you want an outcome, hold the competition again and let all the other wineries that were honest enter. That should see a winner emerge. Now, wind your neck in and have a frosty one on me this afternoon.
Oh Mealy Bug – may the insecticide never reach you. Luv your notes. Thank you for helping Dez thru the trauma.
I am here to serve and breed and transmit the leaf roll virus. I have been known to roll my own leaf every now and then but all previous offers have been while in a rather lucid state of mind.
I am open to marriage proposals.
JP Chenet Merlot better than any Cape example?
I think he mixed up. It probably should read something like: any Cape example better than JP Chenet Merlot. Yess, that lookes way better, And well, I’m from Europe, have tasted it. When I want a headache, I can run into a wall can’t I?